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What We Can Learn from Tre

Xavier Burgin

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Last week, the University of Alabama lost one of its students in an incident no one could’ve imagined. During a sorority-0held event on the Bama Belle, Charles Edward “Tre” Jones III drowned in the Black Warrior River. The notification of this incident, specifically in the black community at UA, was swift, which was due in part to the immediate dispersal of on-the-scene information via Twitter.

Unfortunately, Twitter has a tendency to distort information as the actual occurrence gradually separates from the most current tweets. From the pulsing river of information came the Twitter tag #Pray4Tre. Around this time, I logged off Twitter for the night to prepare for Honor’s Day.

By the next morning, the tag had become an overwhelming trending topic extending its identity well beyond the scope of Tuscaloosa. As I sat atop the stage where Dean Olin and his College of Arts and Sciences faculty passed out scholarships and recognition, I was notified via Twitter of a gathering of students and local Tuscaloosa citizens near the docking station of the Bama Belle. Once the ceremony ended, I chose to skip my duties as a “mound tapper” (I apologize to those I may have shirked) and headed toward the dock. Upon arriving, I found myself among a large contingency of black students waiting to hear the current situation. The night before, the search party stopped once divers were unable to see in the dense darkness of Black Warrior River. Now, many students felt the inevitable but hoped for the best.

Authorities found Tre’s body near the middle of the day. I lost track of time. I know it was still daylight. The body washed up a few miles away from the original place of the incident. During the time between meeting with fellow students and the retrieval of Tre’s body, a swirl of speculation swept the crowd. Individuals accused those near Tre during the incident of foul play. Others speculated it was an honest accident. Tre just fell off the Bama Belle. The worst scenario, in my opinion, was the haunting idea that Tre may have jumped overboard after being sufficiently goaded by his friends.

Unless foul play is involved, all speculation fades into banality when we examine the state of this tragedy. I could care less about “Captain Hindsight” or individuals who place blame on a group or person. The day after this tragedy was my birthday, April 7. I asked everyone to keep the family of Tre and his fraternity, the Eta Chi Chapter of Kappa Alpha Psi, in their hearts. We fuss and fight over such mundane frivolity, and we forget the worst of our enemies deserve as much compassion as our closest friends. We are not invincible. It can happen to us. Your life is just as susceptible to the unknown as the next person. If someone dislikes me on campus, it doesn’t matter. I’d apologize in a heartbeat.

Steve Jobs said, “Almost everything — all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure — these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important.”

What’s important to you? Better yet, who is important to you?

We have a family and a brotherhood that can never tell Tre how much they love him. We are not promised tomorrow. Use today for the ones you love.


Xavier Burgin is a senior in New College studying film production.

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What We Can Learn from Tre